If you’re buying property in Spain, investing in or starting a business, or making a will, you should employ the services of an experienced Spanish Lawyer – Abogado. Suggested (recommended) lawyers’ fees are set by professional bodies (Ilustre Colegio de Abogados), although individual lawyers often set much higher fees. However, rates are usually lower than those charged by lawyers in northern European countries, with a simple consultation of less than half an hour costing from €50. When preparing contracts involving a sum of money, e.g. property or land purchase, fees are calculated as a percentage of the sum involved.
‘No win, no fee’ lawsuits are illegal in Spain.
It clearly is common sense to engage a lawyer who speaks your mother tongue.
Always obtain an estimate – presupuesto of costs in advance, if possible in writing, and shop around and compare fees from a number of lawyers, as they can vary considerably. The estimate should detail exactly what the lawyer will do for his fee.
A Gestor is an official agent licensed by the Spanish government as a middleman between you and the bureaucracy.
A Gestor’s services aren’t generally expensive and most people find it worthwhile employing one. They usually work in a Gestoría, where a number of experts may be employed dealing with different matters, including employment and residence permits; establishing and registering a business; social security and property contracts. A Gestor can help you in your dealings with any government body or state-owned company.
It isn’t compulsory to employ a Gestor, but without one you must usually speak fluent Spanish (or have an interpreter), and have time, patience and stamina to deal with the red tape and obstacles that will confront you.
A Notary – Notario/Notaria is a public official authorised by the government, who’s most commonly engaged in property transactions. He/she doesn’t deal with criminal cases or offer advice concerning criminal law. Notarios have a monopoly in the areas of transferring real property, testamentary (e.g. of wills) and matrimonial acts, which by law must be in the form of an authentic document, verified and stamped by a Notario. In Spain, property conveyancing is strictly governed by Spanish law and can be performed only by a Notario.
In respect to private law, a Notario is responsible for administering and preparing documents relating to property sales and purchases, inheritance, wills, establishing limited companies, and buying and selling businesses. He also certifies the validity and safety of contracts and deeds.
A Property Administrator – Administrador de Fincas is a licensed professional who’s qualified to handle all matters connected with owning and managing property in Spain, particularly property in an urbanisation where there’s a community of owners. His duties include calling meetings, taking minutes, advising residents, collecting fees, paying taxes and paying bills.
Note – the Spanish legal system is very slow and there’s a backlog of thousands, which means that it can take many years for cases to come to court. You should if possible avoid going to court by taking all precautions when doing business in Spain, i.e. obtaining expert legal advice in advance.